OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS 4|ND CRITERIA
in question, in a conflict for domination between two
such powers as Kaiser and Tsar, or Germany and
Russia, or Nazism and Communism, one should say
(as Bismarck was prepared to say at worst in a parallel
situation) : " Let the rascals fight it out if they like ; hit
intervene to prevent whichever one it might be from
destroying the other; because it is necessary for the
safety of civilisation that both should exist and operate
as a check upon one another ". The atrocities committed
by a given Power do not invalidate the maxim; for, as
we who have broken it will learn to our cost, it is a
maxim for limiting the area of horrors and atrocities.
If the gentle go as lambs to the slaughter, that is one
matter; but if fhey think to resist violence, they cannot
afford to despise prudential counsels.
In any case, all these are facts which a new synthesis,
a new reconstruction of the history of recent decades,
may find it necessary to take more adequately into account.
It will be clear to anybody whether the recent decades
themselves have fairly faced them or whether there has
been a disposition to hide them and to gloss them over.
But when all the terms of the problem are kid out—
when the widest canvas is envisaged and the long-term
view is set beside the short-term view—it is true that
we do not know what reshapings this chapter of history
will have to suffer; we cannot even predict where the
point of effective controversy will lie* Controversy
may even turn on the view which has been attributed
to Sir Arthur Nicolson that if we offended Russia she
might ally with Germany against us—a danger which
not all of us, on the survey of a century of history, would